Billings: ROSIE’S RUN FOR THE ROSES and other comments on life…..

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Women bring something different to their connection with horses. In most cases, obviously, the ones I have observed, men just don’t have that connection….that special connection…. Now I know I probably will make some men mad….but so be it…..go lick your wounds elsewhere….For me, it is about woman and horses.
Although I am not a fan of horse racing, the top jockey at this moment is 25 year old Rosie Napravnik, and she is competing in this week’s Kentucky Derby. Rosie will make a “run for the roses.” Go Rosie. As Rosie’s sister Janice put it on "60 Minutes" on Sunday, "Men may have an advantage with their physical strength, but women have finesse." Ah, so true. Rosie is 5’2” and weighs in at 113 pounds, exactly.
Over the years there have been a few female jockeys. They are, for the most part, only tolerated in a male dominated world. But one can’t argue with success. In horse racing, it is a level playing field. One horse, one rider, one track to run. It’s that simple.
Several years ago, I played the part of Anna Lee Aldred, a pioneer in the horse racing arena. She grew up on a ranch south of Montrose and horses were her passion. Sound familiar? In fact, she was the first woman in the country to receive a professional jockey’s license. Well, that certainly is not for me. I don’t like speed, and you must be fearless on top of your mount when you are going 40 miles an hour. Evidently, Rosie is. She thrives on speed.
And speaking of speed…a different kind of “speed”—the decade of the 60s. This Sunday, the Ouray County Chorale is performing at the 4H center at 7 p.m. I only bring this up because all our music is from the 60s. It will be a great concert, including “Imagine,” “Puff,” “Early Morning Rain,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Scarborough Fair” and “Blowin’ in the Wind.” This was my generation—a very volatile decade. I was in college from ‘63 to ’67. In ‘63, JFK’s assassination…the Beatles came in ‘64 and the Vietnam War…a difficult decade but one that produced great music. When I think that I graduated from college in 1967—that’s 46 years ago. It was then that I started teaching art in the New York City school system.
While in college at New Paltz (upstate New York), I played guitar in hootenanny groups. We would all gather round and swap songs…mostly anti-war songs…songs by Dylan; Peter, Paul and Mary; Simon and Garfunkel; Gordon Lightfoot; Jim Croce; and, the Beatles. Brings back memories! For you also?
Well, that’s all in the past. Great memories, great stories. Perhaps with the years, the stories have been embellished a bit. I had always fancied myself as a hippie, living either in a loft in Greenwich Village, painting or in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where all the “flower” children were. I fantasized about that. And in fact, in 1969, I made my first trip out West to California, which would become my home for 23 years. But California turned out not to be “West” enough for me, so I had to come east to truly find the West. And that is what brought me to Ridgway and to horses and to their passion and mine. I am so grateful to live in their world. Equines make more sense to me than humans.
So while years have gone by since the '60s, the consciousness of people has changed little. I hope some day we will truly be at the “tipping” point and there will be more people who want to have a peaceful world and fewer who think the only way to get things done is to fight.

Imagine there’s no heaven, It’s easy if you try
No hell below us, above us only sky
Imagine all the people, living for today
Imagine there’s no countries, it isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too
Imagine all the people, living life in peace
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger - A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people, sharing all the world
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one.
John Lennon – “Imagine”

A wise man once said to me that the world needs more feminine energy. Go Rosie, go!


Alice Billings is a resident of Ridgway, Colorado, a painter, an artist, an author and friend to animals everywhere.